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Poo Bear
Pod Team
Pod Team

Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 4121
Location: Sheffield, UK

PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2003 5:39 pm    Post subject: Moonpod Reply with quote

Moonpod is a new independent game development company founded by three games industry veterans.

Nick Tipping: artist (Fost)
Mark Featherstone: programmer (Poo Bear)
Darren Griffiths: programmer (Goober)

Our first game is almost finished and hopefully it will be the first of many. As industry veterans we want to bring some much needed professionalism to independent development in terms of presentation and game stability. Too many times have we downloaded demos only for them to crash or exhibit very amateurish content. If people are expected to pay real money then they should expect real quality. We don't want to upset anybody, there a lot of people out there working really hard, but games shareware or "try before you buy" as it is now known still has a certain stigma attached. We want it to be a credible medium and proper alternative to the high street shop which has dominated for too long.

Independent development is fraught with many dangers, a flood of poor quality software, an inability to access adequate marketing and obviously the difficulty in reaching and maintaining a big enough audience to support development. So why take the risk?

The expansion of the Internet into the home is well established and people are becoming more comfortable with online purchasing. This means there is surely a ready and growing market to receive Moonpod's games, if we can just reach out to them. Direct sales means there are no middlemen between the developer and the customer, this means the developer maximises any income from sales.

As a result the developer needs a much smaller market to bring in the same amount of money. For example, a Moonpod game sale returns approx 70% of the sale price to Moonpod, the only costs being our eCommerce partner, web hosting and sales tax. Whereas a high street developer will only receive about 5-10% of the sale price due to marketing, publisher costs, distribution charges, sales tax and the huge high street seller mark-up.

These spiralling costs force high street publishers and developers to pursue "safe" licences and sequels. Normally a publisher will assign the lionís share of the budget to marketing to ensure the maximum amount of hype is created. The costs involved mean most seemingly successful games fail to break even let alone make a profit. All the time publishers are desperate to reach a bigger and bigger audience, pushing more and more marketing hype, constantly raising the buying public's expectations and applying more and more pressure on the developerís margins. A vicious circle that results in fewer and fewer titles reaching the shops, higher prices and longer development times. In the end we have only a hand full of "must have" super-hyped games released each year and more developers going bust trapped in 3 year development cycles with 25 man teams.

Spending three years creating a game with 25 people sometimes creates true gaming gems, but more often than not it forces developers to pursue the safe route. By only releasing one game every 2-3 years it is difficult for a developer to grow, their experience being limited usually to only one genre. Growth requires practice; every time you release a game you learn a little bit more about your craft and what the game playing public want. With a 2-3 year turn around feedback will be limited and there is no chance for experimentation.

Obviously there will always be room for huge developments like the fantastic Final Fantasy series, Quake, Civ3, Halo and GTA3. However, there should and must be room for all the other great games that have yet to be made. Just because they aren't multi-million dollar developments doesn't make them redundant, sure they should have a lower price tag, but this is the only way we are going to see innovation.

So while your waiting for FFXII or NeverWinterNights2 why not give Starscape a try. Imagine if you could download hundreds of games cheaply from all over the Internet and enjoy truly unique and innovative game play.

That day may yet come.
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